Research and analysis: Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance 2016

Updated: Correction made to the text in the Background section regarding the methodology used to interpret resistance data

This annual publication presents veterinary antibiotic sales data in the UK from 2012 to 2016 and antimicrobial resistance data for England and Wales from 2014 to 2016. Key information is summarised in the highlights report.

Further details including antibiotic resistance data from Scotland and Northern Ireland can be found in the supplementary material.

Antibiotic sales data

Veterinary pharmaceutical companies submit data annually to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) on their previous year’s sales of antibiotics authorised for use in animals. The VMD use the data provided to calculate the volume of active antibiotic ingredient within the medicines sold.

Sales data are used as an estimate for antibiotic usage. However, as not all antibiotics sold will be used, sales figures are generally an overestimate. Sales data do not permit more detailed analyses, for example of the consumption of antibiotic by animal species or production class.

Antibiotic usage data

Many antibiotics are authorised for use in multiple species, so it is not possible to determine how much is used per species from sales data alone. The VMD is working in partnership with key livestock sectors to develop, facilitate and coordinate antibiotic usage collection systems.

Antibiotic usage data from meat poultry was presented for the first time in VARSS 2014; and this year the report also includes usage data from the pig, gamebirds, egg and dairy sectors.

Antibiotic usage refers to the amount of antibiotics purchased, prescribed and/or administered. Producers, feed companies and veterinary practice sales records provided the data presented in the VARSS report.

Monitoring of antibiotic resistance

The VMD collates data from government laboratories on antibiotic resistance in bacteria found in samples from animals. This is managed through two programmes: EU Harmonised Monitoring, which is carried out as a legal requirement, and a clinical surveillance programme, which relies on voluntary submission of samples by farmers and veterinary surgeons.

EU Harmonised Monitoring involves the collection of samples from healthy livestock. Samples are tested for the presence of antibiotic resistant bacteria. The bacteria of interest are those which can potentially transfer between animals and man (zoonotic organisms). Specifically, this includes bacteria which are common causes of food poisoning such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli.

The clinical surveillance programme involves the collection of samples from deceased animals that have been submitted to government laboratories by a farmer or veterinary surgeon wanting to determine cause of death. Any bacteria identified, including those which may cause disease in animals (veterinary pathogens), are tested for antibiotic resistance.

Findings from both programmes are reported to the VMD. Monitoring antibiotic resistance allows changes or trends in the level of resistance to be picked up.

Data from these surveillance programmes are also submitted to the European Food Safety authority (EFSA) for inclusion in the annually published European Union Summary Report on Antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic and indicator bacteria from humans, animals and food in the European Union.

You can find previous reports on the collection page.

seen at 18:32, 14 November in Publications on GOV.UK.
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